Your Closet as Playground

Have fun with style!
How often do you spend time just PLAYING with your clothes?

I’d be willing to bet that 98% of you responded, “Ummm, I do that approximately … never.” And that’s normal! Because hey, we’re busy humans, and thimpling around with the contents of our wardrobes probably falls right between “clean out bellybutton” and “alphabetize old mix tapes” on the life priority list.

But here are some reasons to move it on up:

You forgot how much stuff you own

Whoa, where did that fuchsia, sequin-embellished tee come from? SO CUTE! Why haven’t I worn that yet? Oh yeah, it’s been squished between my pilly gray slacks and my oversized black duster from 1993. Now hold the phone, is that an electric blue miniskirt I see? I would look so hot in that …

You have unworn, unmated items

And yes, if they’ve been unworn and unmated for 8 years they are officially unboyfriendable and should be donated. But if you’ve bought something adorable and not worn it yet because there’s no easy outfit at your fingertips, playtime can totally help. Put it on, and just start throwing other items into the mix. You’ll NEVER find it a soulmate if you just let it languish.

You have combinations in there that won’t emerge without a little help

Some items are natural matches. Some need a little coaxing. More coaxing than the mad, 20-minutes-till-I-catch-the-bus scramble can offer. Throw a bunch of colors and textures and eras of clothing onto your bed and start shuffling. You’ll be pattern-mixing and neutral-shunning in no time.

You’re probably about due for a purge

Remember those pilly gray slacks? Yeah. Those can go.

You’re underutilizing your accessories

That tunic is so cute, but it makes me look like a curveless wonder. Maybe an obi belt would work? Or a hip-slung belt? But then, it’s still kinda boring. A chunky necklace might overwhelm it, but maybe a little scarf action?

Staycations are all the rage these days: If you’re taking time off to kick around your house, block off a few hours to get creative with your clothes. And even if you’re not partaking of stay- or vay-cay, try to squeeze this in before the end of the month. Now’s the time to capitalize on your wardrobe’s bounty so that you’re excited by your own style.

Shopping schmopping! A little prance through the playground of your own closet and you’ll feel set for the season.

Image courtesy bitsnbobbins. (Thanks, Tricia!)

Originally posted 2009-08-13 05:50:00.

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47 Responses to “Your Closet as Playground”

  1. Casey


    I love that! haha! 😉

    Great tips, Sal! I have been bad about taking time to play with my wardrobe this season (I try to do it at least once a season, usually towards the beginning and end). I really need to drag everything out and reassess what goodies I have hidden away. lol. 😉

  2. Michael McGraw Photography

    It's awesome that you used, "Now hold the phone" and "unboyfriendable" in the same post.

  3. The Barely Tattoo'd Artist

    So that's what I've been doing everytime I go through my closet…

    I'm trying to break the habit of buying stuff then letting it disappear into the black hole that is my closet…recently, I went through my closet and realized that half of the stuff in it I had for about 6+ months and have never worn it (several of the items still had tags!)…so it was good I went through it (not to mention, I found favorite items I used to wear all the time but let them slide into the back of the closet out of rotation)…

    Excellent tips! I suggest everyone follow them atleast once a year in order to get an idea of what's in their closet as well as deciding on what items they should introduce to their other clothes…plus, it makes it easier to incorporate new things once you have an idea of what you have already…

  4. Sarah R

    I wonder how many people looked down at their belly buttons…

  5. Middle Aged Woman

    You silly, silly girl. You don't alphebetize old mix tapes. They are filed chronologically.

  6. Christina Lee

    yep- all good advice- now to just get motivated to do it!

  7. Meli22

    I am going to do this Saturady! ; ) I want to create some outfits I havn't worn before and wear them JUST BECAUSE. And photograph them for my blog.

  8. Cal

    My dear I LOVE this post! Every once in a while (usually to try to make The Horrid Laundry more tolerable) I will try on skirts and tops and shoes and pants and switcharoo and of course all of this is done while wearing redredred lipstick and blasting music. Because trying on your own clothes and finding new outfit options is like your very own movie montage. Only it's a mirror montage instead.

  9. Becky

    Firstly, I love The Magnetic Fields…that particular song made it onto about 10 of my itunes playlists in the past 2 years. Secondly: 8 years? Really? EIGHT? Did you mean that to be hyperbolic? I've always heard the 1-year rule…that if you haven't worn it in a year, chances are you won't wear it (unless you're holding onto a special occasion dress or something).

  10. Lorena

    This is sooo true.
    I try (I swear I do) to take all of the clothes out of the closet once a year and it helps me remember what I own and realize that I really don´t need to go shopping.
    I do it while watching TV and will sometimes try to put together anything the actress on the show is wearing…

  11. Sal

    Becky: Oh, I'm being a touch hyperbolic … but I've come to realize that the one-year rule doesn't always apply. It depends on how you're wired, and how much your style is still evolving.

    Personally I'd rather put stuff into storage if it still fits and I still like it, but it hasn't gotten worn. That way, fewer giveaway regrets.

    If something no longer fits, never fit in the first place, is ruined and un-repair-able, or is likely to NEVER suit your taste again … that's another story.

  12. Barb

    Sound like this could be fun excuse to invite shopping buddy over for supper and have her help me shop the closet for new combinations.

    I think the one-year rule only works if you're in a climate that has relatively constant temperatures, and therefore have had months of opportunity. In Minnesota, a warm-ish winter or cold spring can mean that I don't get to wear something I still like.

  13. Sal

    Barb: Excellent point! My spring/fall stuff sometimes languishes because those seasons are SO SHORT around here. But I still love 'em, they still fit, and in the closet they stay.

  14. Rosie Unknown

    I love playing with my closet, finding things that I would like to wear together, rediscovering what I had lost, ect.

  15. WendyB

    If anyone finds fuschia sequins and doesn't want them, give them to me!

  16. Meli22

    I have a new post on my blog- that mentions you a bit- perhaps you might want to read it ; )

  17. Tina Z.

    I notice the more often I revisit my closet the more I donate and the more options I realize I have! Not to mention the fabulous feeling of purging old stuff that is ill fitting or just plain bad.

  18. metscan

    Due to weeding, I have very little clothes in my closet. I´m conservative in the way I dress, and I don´t like layering. I like the idea of having separate clothes for each season ( jeans are the only exception). Same goes for bags and shoes. I don´t like shopping but I do like to get new things. I must be your nightmare, Sally.

  19. futurelint

    I totally play dress up in my closet all the time… my only problem is I make a MESS and then I have to spend two hours putting all those belts and shoes away!

  20. lisa

    Great tips! It can be easy to forget what you have–especially when you tend to stash your clothes in dressers.

  21. rb

    I don't have any items from 1993 or even much from two years ago. I am a relentless purger (old house, small closets.) But I do have items that could be re-paired in interesting ways and I should do more of that. I'm trying a one month shopping ban – can't commit to three months because autumn is the season of My Colors and I hate to miss it entirely – and I think I will have to play in my closet to make it seem like I have new things. Because who doesn't love having new things?


    haha…Shopping schmopping & eekonomy! fave words for today!!
    I do inventory check once a month now…no more overstock for now at least~


  23. Maegan

    this is all so true. And for me …sometimes if I don't see it, I don't know it exists so I'd rather have everything hanging or on open shelves. But my closet is so not even close to big enough and I have to constantly organize and reorganize just to make room for new stuff! It's a vicious cycle! Taking the time to try on outfits when not in a rush in the mornings would most definitely be beneficial!

  24. FashionAddict

    I just cleaned out my closet in July when I ordered some hangers from It's nice to have all my pants on one hanger, my skirts on another, and my cardigans on another. It really eliminates a lot of wasted time in the morning. I need to order some more to get all my tops in order before fall.

  25. Lesa

    You are reading my mind, with a little help from my daughter I am taking on the closet before school starts again, I KNOW i have hidden clothes, things that should go and all the other stuff you mentioned.

  26. AsianCajuns

    I'm staycationing this weekend in my closet! I kinda had this planed, but you are right about where it was on the priority list, Sal. I should do this whenever I get twitchy about shopping.


    This is juts what I need right now…it´s all a little bit messy 😉

  28. Audi

    Yes! It's also FUN, and everyone should have a little fun with what they wear.

  29. The Freakum Dress

    Oh, so good to read that ! Sometimes when i don't know what to do ( often … ) i spend hours playing on my closet : classing , sorting out , trying … 🙂
    (excuse my bad english, i am french

  30. Anonymous

    Sal, great advice (and hilarious delivery) as always! I would love to see what *you* come up with after playing in your own closet. Maybe a future post with pictures of new ways you found to wear your old favorites, things you forgot you owned, etc.?

  31. Sal

    Anonymous: OOOH FUN! I've been keeping those lists to encourage the use of neglected items … I should cobble together a series of closet orphan outfit shots.

  32. Annie

    Any suggestions for how to have fun with an existing wardrobe and also wear the outfits out in public? I love clothing – the styles, colors, textures and endless possibilities but often I feel that I have different versions of myself hidden away in there – no, I'm not schizophrenic, I just mean there is a disconnect between what clothing is in my closet and what I wear on a daily basis. I'd like to start wearing more of what is in my closet (I have a good idea of what's in there) but get stuck in a rut even though I've got a nice selection of clothing just waiting to be worn.

  33. Imogen Lamport

    Great ideas – so often I unearth great treasures underneath piles of stuff at the back of drawers in people's wardrobes.

  34. Hanako66

    I need to do this so bad it's not even funny…I want to cry in the morning my closet is such a mess!

  35. myedit

    I guess I am the 2% who wastes a lot of time playing with my clothes. Especially now with the whole fashion blog thing…Haha, it's hard to go to bed when the closet is right there, beckonning me..

  36. Annie

    Sal thank you for the links! I'm new to the world of fashion blogs so this primer is much appreciated!

  37. Bianca

    Honestly? I do it all the time LOL! I love my clothes, and I have invested lots of time and money into them, so I am going to enjoy them.

    Sometimes at work, I will make lists of particular items I haven't worn lately, then I will come home and plan outfits around them for the next few days.

    About once a month, I go through each item on the racks (which are organized my type and color) and see if anything is looking worn, needing repairs, isnt being worn as much etc – and then deal with each piece of clothing. This really helps to keep my closet "fresh" 🙂

    Fun post!!

  38. CrankyOtter

    after putting off a purge for, oh, 2 years, when did I decide to try on nearly everything I own and clear out a giant pile of "why do I even own that?" items? The day I'm flying to Alaska. Don't know how my brain decided on that, but I needed to pack for vacation and wasn't feeling inspired, so I tried on everything at hand. Made me realize I'd been angsting about a 3 hour effort for 2 years. Need to do a follow up – I'll use your terminology of "play with" my clothes, see if it helps the procrastination.

  39. Sharon Rose

    Hi there-totally agree with this Sal, it puts you back in tune with those forgotten treasures!!

  40. Cecilia

    I usually take time to purge my closet when I switch the spring summer clothes with the fall winter clothes. Because of weight issues, I have resisted buying too much clothing and my closet is very "sparse" (I know, I know, love the body you have and dress for right now, right?)… But I do have a few wonderful pieces that are very lonely… like a pair of cowboy boots with a pink flute embroidered in purple, or an embroidered grass green skirt that always gets compliments, but really does not go with anything… I need to find stuff to wear them with. It's a shame to let them go to waste!

  41. joie

    hi sal,
    i've been reading your blog for ages now, but had to finally de-lurk to tell you two things:
    1. the magnetic fields is one of my favorite bands ever.
    2. on your rec, i just purchased a pair of red tsubo acreas. i bought them on ebay with no idea of whether they are true to size, but you raved about their comfort so i had to try it. and may i say THANK YOU VERY MUCH – i love them.

    so now you know. and thanks for all your writing – i really enjoy it.

  42. Sal

    joie! YAY! I am SO GLAD you nabbed a pair of Acreas. Aren't they the best? You will get loads of compliments, guaranteed.

    I'd love to see outfit photos, if you care to send 'em my way!